Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 21 - Ben & Jerry's

I was dropping the boys off at school today when I heard on the news that it was "National Free Scoop Day"....at Ben & Jerry's. Well, that does me no good since the nearest Ben & Jerry's is probably in the Minneapolis airport. All it did was make me think about ice cream. All. Day.

When I got home from the gym (strategically planned so I could eat said craving) I realized, mid-client email, that I had a pint of Ben & Jerry's in the freezer! I was so impressed with my ability to anticipate my Half-Baked cookie dough/brownie cravings!

While I was digging into the ice cream (sans bowl - bachelor style straight out of the carton) I laughed thinking about how I eat ice cream. I love to pick through the ice cream & eat out all the good stuff - the pieces of cookie dough or brownie or girl scout cookies...it drives most people that know me crazy! Especially one someone in particular. :-) Anyway, I started trying to craft some analogy in my head about only wanting the good things in life & trying to avoid the more difficult things. Then, I realized that the plain ice cream would have to represent the difficult things, and that just didn't make sense. I just REALLY wanted my excuse for eating ice cream to be that I had a brilliant analogy. Turns out, I just wanted chocolate!

I put a good dent in that pint, but later in the day, I did feel like God was speaking to me. There have been many times in my life, like yesterday, when something amazing happens to me and I wonder why. All I can think about is how much I've screwed up and how I don't deserve those things. It reminds me of a passage in the Bible: (which I just picked up & is covered with Cheeto finger prints - that one wasn't me!)

This passage is from Matthew 7 when Jesus is teaching. He says:

"Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.
Which of you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Isn't it great to know that God loves us just because it is His nature?! It overwhelms me to the point of tears that God cares about me. I sure haven't done ANYTHING to deserve it. Maybe I don't have a spectacular analogy, but have you ever thought about why God gave us sugar or desserts? Our bodies don't benefit from them, except to bring us the pleasure of eating it. God chooses to show us His love, JUST BECAUSE. Not because we deserve it, but because it is who he is!

Tyler is learning the most popular verse in the whole Bible for school this week. Read it slowly today, and savor it like a bowl of Ben & Jerry's. :-)

For God SO LOVED the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 20 - The Triumph

I just found out today that Adam & I won wedding photography from the most amazing photographers based in Seattle, Washington. I had to write out our story for the contest, so I figured I'd share it. :-)

Adam & I met 5 years ago at a local YMCA gym while playing a game of pick-up basketball. There were no sparks, no love-at-first-sight, and there was no storybook romance. In fact, if we had known at that moment how much pain we would endure because of our future relationship, we might not have even spoken. But we did, and I am so thankful, because it changed my life.

I didn't exactly do things right the first time. I was young and foolish, but I got two beautiful boys out of the mess that was my previous relationship. I also figured out what I wanted in a man. I didn't see it in Adam right away. We were just friends, and he was in a relationship of his own. We saw each other a few times a week and went about our lives. It wasn't until both of us found ourselves in crises that we began developing a deeper relationship.

I always looked forward to our conversations. It was amazing to me that I found a man who was good at listening, and even better at challenging me to step out of my comfort zone and grow myself. He loved that I played sports with the guys, and wasn't afraid of a physical challenge. When I found out he was taking a job in another state, I was devastated. It was too soon for me to be in another relationship, and he needed to take the next step in his career. I didn't know if I'd ever see him again.

We kept in touch after he left. The frequency of our conversations on the phone became daily, and it wasn't long before I asked him to come back and visit. I initially assumed that after he left I would move on, but I found myself feeling like I couldn't live without him. It was an impossible situation. I had 2 kids and couldn't leave the state, and he was under contract for 2 years and worked in the media industry where getting to pick a job in a specific city almost never happened.

We spent the next 2 1/2 years travelling back and forth every 4-6 weeks to spend a few days with each other. We never knew if our relationship would work out. At times, it was overwhelming being away from each other, but we stayed committed. Our belief that our relationship was worth fighting for, and many, many prayers kept us hanging on.

From the outside, it might not seem like much. We didn't have to battle cancer, war didn't separate us, and being apart really was just the result of my own mistakes. But in a society where commitment is becoming a rarity, and love based on hard work and self-sacrifice isn't seen too often, we really did have something special and we knew it.

In July of last year, a job became available at the same news station he had previously worked at. Taking the job meant that we could finally be together, but it also meant a pay cut, and permanently stepping into the lives of 2 little boys that were not his own. It was asking a lot. I wasn't surprised when the man I had grown to love so much made the sacrifice to be with me and my boys. He proposed in February, in the middle of a game of pick-up basketball. The way we met became the beginning of the story of the rest of our lives together. We're ready for the long haul. We already know that good relationships are always worth fighting for. :-)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 19 - Thank Yous

For some reason I decided to go back and re-read some of my blog entries today. Not because I amuse myself (although I still laugh thinking about the skinny jeans) but because I wanted to track my progress. I was overwhelmed by the realization that every concern or circumstance causing me stress had been so graciously taken care of by God. Now, I know there are people that believe in coincidence, but I just don't. I believe in a God that knows us intimately and cares about all the little details of our life, and He lavishes us with His love. God is so faithful.

On Saturday I ran a 5k in some pretty cold temperatures with the wind in my face most of the time. (I also had to run uphill in the snow - both ways!) I'm still trying to shake a bad chest cold that has been hanging on for quite some time now, so I was fairly uncomfortable most of the race. When I rounded the last corner toward the finish line, I was sure we still had a mile to go. I had been so busy being miserable that I had totally lost track of the course and how far I'd come!

Today when I was reading through my blog I realized that sometimes I get so busy that I forget to thank God for how far He's brought me. I don't have any profound thoughts today - just a thankful heart for a God that knows me and loves me anyway. It's easy to get stuck being overwhelmed by circumstances. Ask God to remind you today how much He has done for you. He gave up His son for us. Aren't you thankful? I am. :-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 18 - Blues, Greens & Bunny Hills

Recently I took a trip to Big Sky, Montana for a couple days of skiing. It sounds fun - except I don't ski, or not well, anyway. I had one nightmare of an experience in high school where I had to be carried down the mountain, and I had successfully mastered a few hills (not a mountain) a couple years ago in the Midwest (aka the flat country). Other than those two times, I hadn't had any practice, so needless to say, I was a little nervous.

The first day went pretty well. I hit the bunny hill with kids that came up to my knees, eavesdropped on the instructor, and tried to look like I was coordinated. After a few attempts, we hit the chairlift, and it wasn't long before I didn't mind a little speed coming down some of the shorter green runs. I took the rest of the afternoon to catch up on some rest so I'd be fresh for the next day.

The following morning we went to the other side of the mountain, and I was really starting to feel comfortable on some of the easier hills. After one run, the girl working at the chair lift told me it was time to ride the "big kid chair" - that she had seen me skiing and I was ready for more of a challenge. I didn't mind the idea, so up we went. I just didn't realize how far up we were going - all the way to the top. (Did I mention we were in the MOUNTAINS?) There was one more chair for the crazy people that ski off cliffs, but essentially, we were at the top. I got off the lift and panicked. I could see forever. I felt like I was in the clouds - and then I looked down. I wanted to smack myself. Everyone knows not to look down!

We started down a short trail, came to a clearing, and I was faced with the steepest hill I had seen yet. I froze. My heart started racing and I felt the tears coming. I knew there was only one way down, and I felt trapped. I couldn't turn around, and I was too scared to go down.

In the middle of my panic, I cried out to God, and a sense of peace washed over me. I knew I wasn't alone. I made it down the hill just fine. In fact, by the afternoon I was going down the more difficult blue runs with no problems. I discovered something through the whole process: Even though it was a lot easier to ski down the little hills, it also brought less satisfaction. It was safe, but it wasn't as rewarding. It was harder work and more of an adrenaline rush with the more steep, longer runs, but it was also a bigger payoff. At the end of the day I was left wondering what else in my life was being inhibited by fear.

I can think of one thing in particular that I have been struggling with lately. I've been so afraid to let it go, and I've been taking the easy way out. This week God reminded me that it might be hard, but it is so worth it to let go and trust Him. Life with God is supposed to be exhilirating! I know I might even crash every now and then, but I'm starting to think I'd rather do that than sit on the sidelines, or hang out on the bunny hill. :-) Now I know what I was missing!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 17 - or Day 92, but who's counting?

Yes, I know - it's been well over a month since my last entry. Where do I even begin with the excuses? Wedding planning? Tax season? Being sick for an entire week? Do those things count?

When I was in grade school, every year the 4 fastest girls & boys in the class got to compete at a city-wide track meet at the end of the year. I made the team every year, and I always looked forward to running the races. My 5th grade year, I decided that, in addition to the relay, I was going to run the 400 meter race too. I started off pretty well. I was well ahead of the rest of the girls and felt like I should win the race...until I got about 200 meters in. I didn't know how to pace myself for a race that long and despite my father's encouragement to keep going, I walked right off the track and quit the race.

I feel like that A LOT in life. I am always excited to start projects, and I rarely think about the details or consequences of making certain choices. I get overwhelmed easily and find myself thinking back to the 11 year old on the track wanting to quit.

The good news is that this blog has been a success for me! It hasn't been what I thought it would be, but my relationship with God has certainly grown. Over the last 2 weeks I have been able to read my Bible every morning before getting the kids ready for school. I only have to set my alarm clock 20 minutes earlier, and the payoff has been huge. I'm still finding that things don't always go how I plan. Some mornings the kids still wake up before me, but God always seems to find a way to encourage me anyway.

The Bible study I started is called "Victoriously Frazzled". If that isn't a title that moms can relate to, I don't know what is! I would definitely recommend it for those that are finding it hard to keep up with the daily demands of life. Even if Bible reading isn't something you normally do, I promise you will find this helpful! It really only takes a few minutes every day.

Even though this process wasn't what I expected, it reminds me that God uses us despite our lack of ability. I'm also thankful for second, third, and 45,000th chances! :-) Keep plugging away at whatever God has called you to. He is faithful to help you complete it, even when you feel like you can't.